Religion and the Bases

The always excellent National Annenberg Election Survey today released data detailing the percentage of white, born-again and evangelic Protestants in the forty largest states (PDF). This is a group of voters that Bush won in 2000 by 56 points, the second largest victory for either Bush or Gore among any major demographic group (Gore won African-Americans by 81). The data is quite revealing, and goes a long way toward explaining the current electoral structure of the entire country. Here are some select states from their survey
State	%     Partisan Index
TN     51		RNC +4.4
KY     50		RNC +15.6
AL     47		RNC +15.4
MS     46		RNC +17.4
OK     42		RNC +22.4
IN     38		RNC +16.2
MO     36		RNC +3.9
VA     31		RNC +8.5
IA     30		RNC +0.2
OH     27		RNC +4.0
WA     26		DNC +5.1
MN     25		DNC +1.9
CO     24		RNC +8.9
MI     24		DNC +4.6
FL     23		RNC +0.5
PA     22		DNC +3.6
AZ     21		RNC +6.8
CA     17		DNC +11.3
MD     13		DNC +15.9
NY	9	DNC +24.5
NJ	8	DNC +15.3
CT	7	DNC +17.0
MA	6	DNC +26.8
The correlation here could hardly be more obvious. Further, the bumps in the table are very much the result of a state having either a particularly high or low percentage of minorities. Overall, a state seems to be a swing when it is somewhere in the twenties. I do not think it will be long--in fact, it may have already happened--before Colorado and Arizona are the important swing states that Missouri and Tennessee once were. As Missouri and Tennessee start tuning into the 700 Club, they will start tuning out Democrats. By comparison, Colorado's numbers look like a swing state, as do Arizona's.

With Muslim voters now overwhelming opposing Bush (a sharp contrast from 2000), with "Secular Warriors" also swinging heavily against Bush, and with Jewish voters overwhelming opposed to Bush, two equally sized religious blocks have formed in this country. On the one hand, representing just under 20% of the voting public, are white, evangelical and born again Protestants that support Bush roughly three to one. On the other hand, there is a diverse group of the religious and the irreligious, connected only by the common thread that they do not consider themselves Christian. This group also makes up just under 20% of the voting population, but opposes Bush roughly three to one.

Considering this, the future electoral direction of the country will be based almost as much on the changing religious demographics of the nation as it will anything else. The Democratic base is overwhelmingly non-white and/or non-Christian. By contrast, The Republican base is overwhelmingly white and Protestant / Mormon. The difference between the two parties can be expressed as well using these religious and ethnic terms as it can by using any other metric.

I'm playing on dangerous ground here, so I'll just stop. Draw further conclusions on your own.

Bush, Kerry Battle Over New Demographic Groups

By Chris Bowers, Senior MyDD Analyst

Certain demographic groups, once though to be bastions of support for one candidate or the other, are wavering in the post-9/11 world.

For President Bush, "NASCAR Dads," who in 2000 were a nearly solid Republican voting block, are not supporting him at nearly their former level. Primarily, this is a result of high oil prices and the current instability in the Middle East. This instability threatens to drive oil prices even higher, thus increasing the cost of tickets to NASCAR events.

"I'm Republican," said Tony Mottola, a 31-year-old self-confessed "NASCAR dad" from Rhode Island who works as an engineering technician. "A lot of race fans here will probably vote for him."

While these words must offer some solace for the endangered President, who is down by double digits in recent polls in Oregon and New Mexico and has been forced to pull his advertising from states such as Michigan and Washington, it is the "probably" that remains troublesome. Still, despite private concerns several Bush campaign advisors have expressed to me, most try to present a positive outlook. Confidently claiming that "NASCAR Dads" will come home on Election Day, David Page, some 58-year old dude from New Hampshire, said "NASCAR dads are brand loyal and I think they'll be loyal to President Bush when it's time to go to the polls."

Experiencing similar problems with his base, John Kerry is struggling to maintain Gore's level of support among "Flip-Flopping Elitists." The key characteristics of such voters is that the hate America and the military. According to political scientist Rush Limbaugh, these voters "represent more than half of John Kerry's base." Clearly, if Kerry's support among those who hate America and the military declines even slightly, his chances in this election are not too good.

"Fuck Bush," I heard some random person on the street say to a friend yesterday. While this person was clearly a "Flip-flopping Elitist," she also was not wearing any Kerry paraphernalia at the time. For a member of this demographic to still be undecided at this late date can only spell trouble for the Kerry campaign.

Other new demographic groups, such as "Leadership Moms" and "Windsurfing Frenchies" also might not vote in the large blocks they have in the past. For example, crucial swing voters such as Jane Johnson, a Republican State Senator from Texas and formerly a "Gore Is a Robot Mom," said she has become a "John Kerry Didn't Earn His Medals Mom," as a result of "recent memos." However, when asked if she would vote or President Bush, I cut her off, hung up the phone, and assumed that she was undecided.

You've Come a Long Way on Security, Baby!

Lately, the news reading public has been subjected to a series of articles using the patronizing Republican talking point "Security Moms." Of course, as both Anna Greenberg (PDF) and Phillip Klinkner show, this concept is based in gender stereotypes rather than actual polling. What is perhaps just as bad about these articles is that they contain passages like this (emphasis mine):Even in a Democratic stronghold such as California, the first lady's message isn't lost on critical voters such as Rochelle Bird, 35, a working mom who says she's focused on the future of her 5-year-old daughter, Skylar.

"I have recently become a soccer mom -- and I'm a security mom, too," said Bird, a registered Republican and senior field representative with the state Assembly. "I take the job seriously, and I expect my President to take it seriously.

The author quotes a senior Republican field operative, first positing her as "every mother," as evidence that this talking point has merit. Way to reinforce the stereotype! Maybe next she should quote Donald Rumsfeld, posited as "Everyman," on how well things are going in Iraq.

Gallup's Shame

Gallup, even without their new poll, is without question the top outlying polling organization in this election. Since they began doing state polls on the 2004 campaign, one twelve occasions Gallup has had a poll in the field for at least one day when at least one other non-partisan polling firm has had a poll in the field. On eleven of those twelve occasions, Gallup's results where the most pro-Bush of the other non-partisan operations. On the other occasion, Gallup was actually the pro-Kerry outlier: (source)
(* = three way trial heat):

There's more...

Improving on 2000 Turnout Will Be Very Difficult

For some time now, many of us, myself included, have hoped that Democratic turnout will significantly exceed its level from 2000. While there is some evidence suggesting that voter turnout this year could indeed be very high, I would warn against banking on high turnout to be our savior. This is because, as I have just discovered, turnout among self-identifying Democrats and self-identifying Republicans is already a lot higher than one might expect. The decline in voter participation across the country seems to be a result of a massive decline in turnout among voters who do not identify with either major party.

The discussion this weekend about party ID and poll weighting gave me an idea. By using the Party ID numbers from exit polls in the 1992, 1996 and 2000 elections provided on Alan Reifman's page, comparing them with Party ID surveys from those same years conducted by Harris and Pew, and then comparing those numbers to the national voter turnout figures provided by Dave Leip, it is possible to estimate voter turnout among Party ID sets for each of those three elections. I have done just that, and here are the results:

Voting Age Population, Turnout By Party ID
	2000   1996   1992
Dem	 63%	54%    54%
Rep	 70%	56%    65%
Other	 35%	38%    50%

Registered Voters, Turnout By Party ID 
	2000   1996   1992
Dem	77%    73%    77%
Rep	86%    77%    92%
Other	43%    51%    71%
While these are estimates, they are not wild estimates. These numbers show that turnout is already very high among self-identifying partisans, and are at nearly full-participation levels among self-identifying partisans who are registered to vote. Over the last three cycles, an average of 76% of registered Democrats voted, and an astonishing 85% of registered Republicans voted! By comparison, those who do not identify with either major party rarely vote at all. If I had access to data before 1992, I bet these numbers would also show that Perot drove independent / other turnout through the roof, and that the lower the share of the national third-party vote the lower the participation of independents / others in the political process. In fact, and while this is purely speculation, I would bet that the long-term decline in voter participation in American elections is directly a result of the decline among those who do not identify with either of the two major parties.

In Presidential elections, registered voters who identify with one of the two major parties vote at levels equal to or greater than almost every worldwide Democracy. It is going to be very difficult to improve on that. Democrats have more room to grow than Republicans, but still are already seeing very high turnout among self-identifying Democrats who are eligible to vote on Election Day. A good goal--and a huge coup--would simply be to equal what Republicans are able to accomplish with turnout. However, even if we accomplish that feat, don't except untold and unexpected millions to suddenly manifest on November 2nd and create an unexpected landslide. We are already a lot closer to maxing out than many people believe.


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